Four days ago, both my children started school.
Yes, BOTH of them.
Bjorn began first grade, no longer the "baby" of the school. Kindergarten had its own playground, an enclosed small playground with a jungle gym, sand toys and tricycles. First grade gets to play in the big playground with the rest of the grades. This playground also has a jungle gym, but has basketball hoops, tether ball and soccer.
But its not all about the playground. (Although if you ask him, it might be!)
I can drop him off at the gate to the school, and he can go to the playground all by himself, dropping his backpack off along the way. He knows now, after being at that school all last year, that he gets to go to a different "special" each day (like music, art, computers). He is especially excited about tomorrow, Friday, because he gets to go to the special that he chose. At the tender age of 6, in first grade, he was able to choose his own elective. From the likes of yoga, baseball, life science and media tech, he chose STEM - an engineering oriented class using building blocks, Legos and Hot Wheels. It is perfect for him.
He is in class with most of his friends from last year, and the ones in the other class he still gets to see at lunch, recess and after-school playdates. He has asked to start flag football this year, so in two weeks I will sign him up for it, in the hopes that he will enjoy it, but will decide he likes baseball or soccer better. Flag football leads to real football, and there is something about my little boy being tackled, or tackling others, that I don't like. Sigh. And me being from Texas, you would think I would be overjoyed! I just worry about his smart little brain getting hurt. At least for 6 year olds, it is still just flag football.
Peanut began full day preschool. We drop her off at her classroom, Princess lunchbox in pretty pink backpack, at the same time we take Bjorn. We pick her up at her class the same time as him, too. All day she goes to school.
The first day, I worried. Would she cry? Would she hang onto my leg? Would she throw one of those huge Peanut size tantrums she is prone to lately?
I shouldn't have given it another thought. She dropped her water bottle off at the water station, lunchbox in lunch wagon, and folder in the homework area. She hung up her Owl backpack given to her by her GodMother alongside three Frozen and one Transformer backpack, and she headed to the play area with her friends. Yes, friends. At open house we discovered that a girl in Bjorn's class also had a little sister in Peanut's. And they are fast friends already, with Peanut coming home to tell me stories of "Oh, P said this in class today" and "I love playing with E. She is just so funny!".
It makes me so happy to see her so involved. Today we dropped her off at school and had to practically beg her for a hug and kiss before she ran off to play. She wanted to just wave us off with a quick 'Bye!' I'm happy she is glad to be there, but my heart aches at my youngest being in school full time.
She is in full time because of my job, because we need her watched three days a week while I work. But I really thought I would only send her when I work, and keep her home with me, doing the things we had done together before. But after she has been in school, I don't think she wants to stay home with me, grocery shopping and going to the gym. I'm sure she would want to stay home if I let her watch movies all day, or if we went to museums or Bounce house places. But that won't be everyday. Most days we would be doing the normal hanging out, errands that happen from day to day. I think she would rather be at school with her friends, playing.
So, I may keep her home more often. I may send her to school. But right now, in this first week, I'm a little sad (and at the same time, impressed and proud) at how easily she leaves us to grow up to go to school. This week I have taken a little more time to make coming home in the afternoon an exciting time for all of us as well - board games, coloring, Barbie playing, Lego building. I have taken the days when they are at school to get all the not-fun adult things done (bills, groceries, mopping). I have also begun writing more. With all this free time while they are both in school, I don't want to waste it. I will make the most of every minute. Much like they are doing at school.
My two small big kids. I am truly starting to feel the ache of them growing up and away, and I also understand now what I was told when I was in the throes of young motherhood, handling a needy toddler and stubborn baby at the same time. "The days are long, but the years are short." Yes. Yes, they are.
Happy first week of school, my big littles. May you form friendships that will last a lifetime, learn lessons that will make you braver, and find the courage to try new things. May you know that I will always be there to pick you up when you have fallen, to walk beside you when you need strength, and to hold your hand when you need comfort.